By Jesse Wood
An estimated 180 to 200 people participated in the Peaceful People’s Parade for climate and social justice in downtown Boone on Monday afternoon. Organized by Boone Rising and held on a rainy day, the march was part of a Statewide Day of Action for Climate Justice and among the many protests occurring during the first 100 hours of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Boone Rising organizer Sarah Kellogg spoke outside the Watauga County Public Library prior to the start of the march throughout downtown. Boone Rising was formed during the 3rd annual Climate Justice Summit held this past December.
Kellogg encouraged those in attendance to take the time to mingle and, in particular, meet someone they didn’t know. She said the intent of the gathering was to celebrate what we have and to realize the collective power communities can wield.
“We are celebrating today what we already have and also coming together to understand our collective power. We have some challenging years ahead of us and we need to start working together now in true solidarity to make sure we can protect this place that we love. Not just celebrate it but keep it for many years to come.”
Boone Rising advocates for, Kellogg said, a long list of items such as equality for all, freedom of the press, indigenous rights and No DAPL, climate change and science, the building of resilient communities, support of local food, access to food and clean water for all, the immediate switch from fossil fuels to renewables, the protection and welcoming of immigrants, quality healthcare, housing, transportation and education for all, the end of war and quite a bit more.
“I’ve spoken a lot and I know all of you have other values, so please speak to each other and then I would like for us to go out and parade and just celebrate and love each other and be as colorful as you want,” Kellogg said.
One of the people in attendance was Shivonne Quintero, who spoke about Small and Mighty Acts, a group that was created on Facebook by another local woman, who organized an event online. That event received a great response, and the new group grew out of that posting.
“The inspiration [of Small and Mighty Acts] is to find creative ways to do activism and build community,” Quintero said.
Future Small and Mighty Acts gatherings could range, Quintero said, from a community politics forum to a potluck for connecting with each other. Small and Mighty Acts will meet at the Watauga County Public Library on Feb. 4 and March 4 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Kara Dodson, a local farmer and massage therapist also marched. Climate change was at the top of her list when answering why she chose to attend the Peaceful People’s Parade.
As a farmer and small business owner, I have already seen how the changing climate and unpredictable weather are making the challenges of growing food and running a business even more difficult,” Dodson said. “Last year’s drought affected all of us. We all need to take action to stop climate change now.”
In addition to Kellogg’s remarks, representatives from local organizations were on hand to discuss the advocacy of particular climate and social justice issues; Elkland Art Center lent costumes for participants; and The Major Sevens, a musical act, performed.
Those in the parade followed a giant fox puppet along the sidewalks of Boone, dancing and singing, before returning to the Watauga County Public Library. The gathering ended with a collective oath to “honor the web of life, practice values of compassion, equity and inclusion, and to stand for justice, particularly for those who have been most harmed; including Indigenous Peoples, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, people of color, people with disabilities, women, elders, and children; now and in the years to come.”
Photos by Ken Ketchie
Photos by Lonnie Webster